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New: October 2008, an updated lifecycle assessment study for disposable and reusable nappies, published by the Environment Agency, click here to download the 2008 report.

To view the original 2005 Environment Agency lifecycle assessment click here

Sustainability Report on Absorbent Hygiene Products
Full report (4217 KB - PDF)
Executive Summary (1115 KB - PDF)

Quality of Life Briefing Paper on Absorbent Hygiene Products and Personal Care Wipes
Full Briefing Paper (890 KB - PDF)


At a glance facts about disposable nappies

Convenient – compatible with modern lifestyles
Efficient – highly absorbent and styled to avoid leaks
Comfortable – ‘dry’ top sheet, flexible cuffs, etc.
Hygienic – disposed of once soiled
Economical – buy as needed, lowered prices
Help reduce chance of nappy rash
Wide choice of sizes and styles
Specific products designed to aid toilet training
Similar overall environmental impact between disposable nappies and cloth nappies. Environment Agency UK LCA May 05
Manufacturers developing new technologies to reduce overall environmental profile further
Reduce need for energy, water and detergents used for laundering
Overall size of nappies reduced by around 40% in recent years – less raw materials, transport, packaging, waste to landfill, etc
Trees used to make nappies are grown as a crop in well managed forests
Process used to cleanse and purify wood does not involve elemental chlorine bleaching
Disposable nappies contribute 0.1% of waste to landfill which equates to 2.4% of household waste
Composition of household waste: Dr Julian Parfitt, Analysis of composition of Household Waste Dec 2001
Garden Waste 20%
Paper and board 18%
Kitchen waste 17%
General household sweepings 9%
Glass 7%
Wood/furniture 5%
Scrap metal/white goods 5%
Dense plastic 4%
Soil 3%
Plastic film 3%
Disposable Nappies 2%
Around 80% of a used disposable nappy and its content are biodegradable
Disposable nappies are compatible with all prevalent forms of waste management, which include waste to energy and composting treatments